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Bruins G Tuukka Rask finally struggles in 6-5 OT loss to Blackhawks that evens Cup finals 2-2

Thursday, 06.20.2013 / 1:05 AM / News

The Canadian Press

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Bruins G Tuukka Rask finally struggles in 6-5 OT loss to Blackhawks that evens Cup finals 2-2

BOSTON - Tuukka Rask dove left, dove right and scrambled in his crease during his toughest night of the playoffs.

When he finally had a chance to stand straight and skate slowly, it was to glide off the ice after a wild overtime loss.

The Bruins goalie, who had been spectacular throughout the post-season, finally lost his touch against some of the NHL's top scorers as the Chicago Blackhawks beat Boston 6-5 in overtime and tied the Stanley Cup finals 2-2 on Wednesday night.

Rask allowed as many goals as he did in his previous four games combined. But there was trouble in front of him — from his defence that was slow to cover opponents and from the traffic the Blackhawks used to screen him.

So Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn't blame his goalie.

"I don't evaluate the players publicly here," he said. "I look at our whole team and tell you our whole team was average. You can take what you want from that. I think we can be a lot better. We have an opportunity to be better next game. Hopefully, if anything, that makes us even hungrier."

Rask will get his chance to rebound Saturday night in Chicago. The best-of-seven series will then return to Boston for Game 6 on Monday night.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Chicago's top regular-season goal scorers, connected for the first time in the finals. In the previous round, the Bruins swept Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins as Rask allowed just two goals in four games.

Rask entered Wednesday's game with a 1.64 goals against average and 14-5 record in the playoffs.

"He has been great the past few games, but if he doesn't get the support (it's) tough to stop pucks," defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said.

On the winning goal 9:51 into overtime, Brent Seabrook took a shot from just inside the blue line on the right. Toews was the big body in front of Rask, who went into a split. The puck sailed over his right shoulder, and Toews — with a big smile on his face — headed back toward Seabrook as the celebration began.

"It was a matter of us not playing the right way," Seidenberg said, "nothing to do with what they did."

Rask had stopped 28 shots in Game 3, a 2-0 win for his third playoff shutout. He entered Game 4 with a streak of 122 minutes, 26 seconds without allowing a goal. It ended at 129:14 when Michal Handzus gave Chicago a 1-0 lead 6:48 into the game.

On Wednesday night, Rask faced 47 shots while his teammates put just 33 on Chicago's Corey Crawford.

"We had some breaks around the net, found some loose pucks. I thought we had way more traffic than the last game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "If (Rask) sees the puck, he's going to be almost impossible to beat."

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— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks